Flood: It’s unsafe returning to submerged homes, NEMA warns


•  Bayelsa IDPs need food, not soap or clothes, state tells FG

The National Emergency Management Agency said on Friday that flood water in some of the affected states was receding, but warned that owners of submerged houses should not be in a hurry to re-occupy such buildings.

It warned that such houses could be unsafe, adding that some of the places where the water had receded were still not safely accessible.

Speaking in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Friday, the Head of Press Unit, NEMA, Mr Manzo Ezekiel, explained that it would be best if submerged buildings were subjected to structural integrity test before occupation so as not to endanger lives.

Asked if the water was receding or there was still a surge, he stated, “It is receding, but most of the places are still inaccessible. Some of the places are not yet fit for human habitation, but the water is receding. However, it’s receding from the extreme North and even some part of the central region compared to the South.

“States like Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Anambra and Kogi still have communities overrun by water, whereas in the area affected in Kano State and some other states, the water has receded to the water channels. Almost every state suffered some losses, but the extent of the damage differs.

“However, even after the water has receded, some of the walls may not be safe for the people to return home. The houses would still be wet and a lot of clean-up would still be required to be done before the houses can be habitable. Integrity test would also need to be conducted before the houses would be fit for people to move in, and states and local governments can look into this.”

He said the agency activated its partnership with the military to support it in airlifting some of the relief materials to areas that were not accessible, particularly some places in Rivers and Bayelsa states.

He also explained that after the emergency phase, NEMA would work with state governments to conduct a detailed assessment of the losses.

Bayelsans need food

The Bayelsa State Government has asked the Federal Government to prioritise food items in its relief materials to the state.

It said no food item had been received from NEMA, as it urged the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development through the National Emergency Management Agency to send foodstuffs through the waterways or by air to avert a looming food crisis.

The chairman of the State Emergency Management Agency, Walamam Igrubia, at a press briefing in Yenagoa noted that displaced persons in the state were in short supply of essential food items because the flood had cut off the East-West Road and rendered Bayelsa inaccessible by road. He said the relief materials so far received from NEMA as of Thursday were non-food items.

Igrubia, who is a member of the State Flood Mitigation and Management Task Force, said, “We have waited for this long, and now NEMA brought in bathing soaps, insecticide treated nets, clothing materials and clothes. But this is an emergency situation. The most paramount thing to us now is food.

“It is only when a man has eaten he can think of what to wear. This is so because of our difficult situation of road inaccessibility from both Warri and Port Harcourt ends. The number of relief materials received from the Federal Government are 598 cartons of bathing soaps, 15 bags of mosquito nets, 41 bales of Guinea brocade. Others include four bags of men’s wear, five bags of women’s wear and two bags of children’s wear.

“How can a disaster management agency think soap is more important than food in this terrible situation? What we need now is food. People are hungry. NEMA should supply food, not non-food items, as relief materials.

Igrubia insisted that the state was not pleased with the way federal agencies were approaching and managing the humanitarian crisis in the state. He noted Governor Douye Diri in collaboration with the Nigerian Air Force had procured food and other items, all of which had been airlifted to the state through the waterways.

He noted that the state was interfacing with traders and oil marketers to reduce the price of commodities and ensure availability of petroleum products in the state.

Cleric establishes camp

A cleric and televangelist in Delta State, Prophet Jeremaiah Omoto Fufeyin, has established an IDP camp for flood victims on the premises of his worship centre, Christ MercyLand Deliverance Ministry, in Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area.

Saturday PUNCH gathered that victims were drawn from different flooded communities in Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Kogi, Anambra and Imo states, among others.

It was further gathered that the cleric also made provision for toiletries just as he donated N5m for the upkeep of the flood victims.

Fufeyin told journalists, “I promised God that if He blesses me, I will also remember the children of God; those who are in need. So, this was done out of love. The Bible says we have to love one another and love your neighbor as yourself. So, I am here trying my best to come to their aid.”

The cleric explained that the humanitarian gesture was being provided courtesy of Jeremiah Omoto Funfeyin Rescue Team, an arm of Jeremaiah Omoto Funfeyin Foundation.

He called on clerics across the country to assist the government in such critical times. We need to now come to their aid and that’s what we are trying to do right now.”

HYPPADEC plans houses

The Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission says it will provide 250 housing units to those displaced by flood in coastal communities in areas covered by the commission.

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It also said it would train and empower 60,000 skilled and unskilled youths in Kwara State within the next five years.

The proposals were contained in HYPPADEC’s Medium Term Strategic Plan (HMTSP) 2022- 2027 presented at its stakeholders forum in Ilorin, Kwara State on Friday.

Presenting the plan, HYPPADEC’s Managing Director, Abubakar Yelwa, said the commission had the approval of its governing board to provide the houses. He however decried the lack of compliance by generating companies in all the six HYPPADEC states in the payment of their dues to the commission.

Yelwa stated, “If not for the grace and support of the governors of the six HYPPADEC states, HYPADEC’s offices would have closed by now because what is due to HYPADEC from generating companies had never been paid to HYPPADEC till date.

“In fact, some of them are arguing and trying to see that there is no justification in paying what is due to be paid to support these communities. Some of them are arguing that they should be allowed to work it out on their own, which should not be the case.”

HYPPADEC’s consultant, Sam Juwl, however said the 60, 000 youths would be trained within the next five years to take them out of poverty.

The Chairman, Governing Council, HYPPADEC, Joseph Ityav, said the meeting was to have stakeholders input in the proposed plan.

Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Mamman Jibril, called for the dredging of River Niger to put an end to the recurring flood in the country.

Rivers denies outbreak

The Rivers State Taskforce on Flood Management has debunked reports of an outbreak of water-borne disease in one of the IDPs camps in the state.

The taskforce chairman, Dr George Nwaeke, told journalists in Port Harcourt that his committee had yet to receive any report of an outbreak of water-borne disease or health challenge in Eduoha or any of the camps.

Some displaced persons taking shelter in Eduoha community, Opata Kingdom in Ahoada East LGA, had complained of the outbreak of water-borne diseases and poor distribution of relief materials meant for them.

Nwaeke stated, “We have our presence in all the IDP camps. We have our doctors and health officers in that particular camp. We created a situation room where every person that is working on flooding in the camps is present. So, the report of water-borne diseases is not true.”

Ecological funds

Meanwhile, a former Security Adviser to the Bayelsa Government, Chief Perekeme Kpodoh, has asked Governor Douye Diri to use the ecological funds paid to the state by the Federal Government over the years.

Kpodoh, in a statement in Yenagoa on Thursday, said, “People should hold Governor Douye Diri responsible and compel him to account for all the money he had received so far as ecological funds. Such money is meant for a time like this. It is not sufficient to be crying wolf and seeking external assistance. What have you done with the resources available to you?

“Diri’s intervention was belated and insufficient. There were warnings that Bayelsa and some other states would be flooded. However, the governor went about his business without making provisions to mitigate the floods.”

‘Avoid borehole water’

The Ogun State Government has appealed to residents of lowland areas affected by flooding not to drink water sourced from wells and boreholes to avert cholera and other water-borne diseases.

It said that residents living in its border towns of Isheri, Warewa, Magboro, and Arepo with their various estates were the most affected.

The Commissioner for Environment, Mr Ola Oresanya, who said when he visited the border towns during an inspection tour of the flooded areas, said the alert  became necessary as the flood had contaminated water sources and facilities. He tied this to chemical contaminants such as fuel, pesticides, metals as well as pathogens in sewage, cemeteries, septic tanks and dead animals.

While disclosing that the state government would embark on another round of dredging and clearing of drainage channels and waterways of silts in the affected areas, Oresanya blamed the flooding on uncontrolled development and the carefree attitude of some residents like improper waste management.

He added, “Some residents are so inconsiderate that they built on waterways in the guise of having approvals. Even if they have the approvals, it would have been given in error through bad advice to the approving authorities. The present government is, however, determined to correct these anomalies as the identified buildings and structures would be removed in the larger interest of other residents.”

The commissioner dismissed reports that the release of excess water from Oyan Dam in Abeokuta led to flooding in the border towns.

Abia’s 21 casualties

The Executive Secretary of Abia State Emergency Management Agency, Dr Sunday Jackson, said the state had recorded 21 deaths from flooding in 16 of the 17 local government areas of the state. ,

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